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B1G 2016: Northwestern Potluck, Day 5: Fixing Ryan Field

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No, Wisconsin fans, burning it to the ground is not an option.

Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning, Off Tackle Empire! Had enough HAT in the other thread? Perhaps you've not had enough HAT but need to remember that you're a real person on the internet for a bit before mocking Northwestern's lack of fans/victories/tradition. Well do I have a Potluck for you!

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Attending games at Ryan Field is...an experience. While it's easy to get seats close to the action, the concourses and amenities leave something to be desired, the food is mediocre at best, and the tailgate scene is a mixed bag (though free parking and tailgating on campus is ammmmple). What is the one thing you would improve about Northwestern's gameday experience, and what's one thing you'd change about your own school's?

Feel free to say other nice things about Northwestern, if you've not said enough this week.

Al NamiasIV: I've been to Ryan Field once: 2010 Iowa vs Northwestern. I've been to three other B1G stadiums and Ryan Field was the worst, by far. We were in the front row of the visitor's section, which basically meant we could only see the cheerleaders; we couldn't see the game at all. For those who have never been to Ryan Field, it is a football field surrounded by a track, and the first few rows, particularly on the visitor's side, are below the field. Therefore, if you are unlucky enough to sit in the first few rows, you can't see over the cheerleaders, band, etc. It was a rainy day too, but we went up to the concourse and watched the game standing, from the behind the field goal. And Dan Persa went crazy and Iowa lost. Anyway, despite loving Chicago, I'm never paying to go to Ryan Field again unless there are substantial changes.

As far as improving the Kinnick experience, I'd get rid of the stuff from the late 80s and early 90s: Sandman, the Panchero bounce, etc. I'd do stuff to appeal to today's students, most notably the music and the seating. This really wouldn't affect my gameday experience, but I'm old--I'm not the important person at a college football game. More should be done for the current students.

Townie: Sadly, I've never been to a Northwestern game. It's on my bucket list, though.

As for Penn State's game day...well it's one of the best in the nation. I wouldn't change a thing. Parking is easy, in one of the many cow pastures (I'm not kidding) around the stadium. There are several bus lines that serve areas away from the stadium, so you can pay your $2 and get a lift through all the traffic.

Tailgating is life at Beaver Stadium. It's a great vibe, where even a Buckeye fan could find a free beer (with a little ball-busting). Our fans (for the most part) know and love football. So don't be surprised if someone knows your starting linebacker's stats and asks after the health of your left tackle.

That said, stay out of the fraternity neighborhoods on game day. Kegs and stupidity abound (mea culpa). You, as a visiting fan, will find all the wrong shit going on back there.

Ray: Can't say I've ever been, but from the pictures I see from family attending events there, it seems like a pretty great experience. I know the grass is always greener, so it might be the case that small issues are magnified by the fact that you've seen them a million times and "OH MY GOODNESS WHY HAVEN'T WE FIXED THAT YET" etc.

As for Rutgers, how about some beer sales in the stadium? I'm tired of being sober/hungover by the 4th quarter. Really not much to complain about. The RU gameday experience is a ton of fun.

Aaron: Oh sweet. This is relevant to me because I was just at Ryan Field for Penn State's heartbreaking loss last November. Thanks for bringing the beer, LPW! My friend who is an Indiana alum was being obnoxious for the sake of being obnoxious, so an older woman turned around and asked us who sold us our tickets because apparently that section was for university staff. I said we got these on the university website, which was true. Later we found out that woman was the women's golf coach.

I guess if I could change something about Ryan Field it would be to create a special section just for IU fans. Also, it wouldn't hurt to have more seats that aren't benches.

WSR: I wouldn't change anything about Northwestern's gameday environment. I like that we have somewhere out there that is a throwback to badger games of the 1980's and early 1990's.  Just without the assholes lobbing stuff at you, because Northwestern fans have to take those books back to the library.

As for Minnesota's gameday experience, my only complaint is something that would be similar to yelling at the ocean now: advertising everywhere all the time.  We have one of the largest video boards in the country, but you'd never know because we need to fill it up with crap from Cub Foods and Federated and Auto Owners and wherever the fuck else.  And there are ribbon boards around the stadium that could pass along useful information like stats, but those need to be used for ad space too.  Fuck all that garbage. If I wanted to be a revenue source for some jackasses, I'd go to a Vikings game.

Jesse: I have no idea how I haven't been to Northwestern yet, but them's the breaks I suppose. From what I've been told, it's a lot of manufactured excitement for a fanbase not quite accustomed to not being awful. So uh, I don't know... maybe change that? Easy, right?

As for Nebraska, there are a lot of things that could make the gameday better in theory. Better tailgate lots, beer in the stadium, more seats that are seats and not benches, etc. However, I've got it pretty easy. Nebraska is a great place to watch a football game, there are tons of good people, runza is there in droves, and you're kidding yourself if you can't find a great place to grab a beer in Haymarket. So really, if there's ONE thing I could change, it would be that we get rid of those damn ‘Greatest Fans' signs... but that's not happening so whatevs.

Speth: BURN RYAN FIELD TO THE GROUND. FUCK THAT PLACE FOREVER AND EVER.

On an unrelated note, congrats to Coastal Carolina on winning the College World Series, you now have as many national titles as "esteemed" Big Ten member Rutgers. Unless you want to argue that 1869 actually counts, I mean that 1949 fencing title isn't much either,, but at least the Statue of Liberty existed for that...

Stew: I have never attended Ryan field.  Though, the two things that I hear the most about it are the restroom situation and the general awfulness of the concourse.  So, let's go with that.

As for the gameday experience in Iowa City.  It's pretty excellent, overall, especially the tailgating.  However, the in stadium fan experience has suffered quite a bit over the last decade.  The student section was moved to a corner, new video boards and sound systems are only used for shitty music and ad space.  And hope you like Aramark!  So yeah, that's what I would change. Use the video boards to show highlights of other games going on.  Play some good music, and stop so many damn ads.  The ads especially are way too intrusive.

Andrew K: Build your grandstands in such a way as to not channel a game-long tornado into the south and east stands, why not?

Everything I've heard from older MSU fans is that the tailgating experience was immensely better when all tailgating was done on Munn Field, directly across from the stadium. In the 90s, the school changed that, turned Munn alcohol-free, and so scattered the tailgating that it has no coherent identity anymore. You can still find a good time in a lot of places, but there's no longer a definitive tailgating spot.

Nate Peterson: I liked Ryan Field a lot better the time the Gophers won, not so much last year.  Concourses and food options are not great.  It's pretty easy to get large blocks of tickets together in decent locations.  Parking is ample and the purple line has a stop a few blocks from the stadium.  It's an easy trip to make and close enough to Chicago that you can enjoy the city, too.

TCF needs looser tailgating rules. `Oh and better wifi`

MNW: I'll deign to go last. First and foremost? Fix the restrooms and the concourses. They're dingy, narrow, and gross. Now that we've upgraded CatVision and the sound system (allegedly), do something about how uncomfortable it is to actually have your ass in the seats, please.

Beyond that, I'd love to see the East Stands get taller and more on top of the field while still maintaining a similar seating capacity. I don't need to see the Ryan Field bowl filled in or anything, because those are just empty seats tarps waiting to happen, but something to make the place a little louder and more intimate would be swell.

Tailgating is fine and ample as it is, especially on campus...seriously, go tailgate on Northwestern's campus for your first visit to Evanston, especially if it's an 11am game. You'll meet a lot of your fellow fans, watch the sun rise over Lake Michigan...it's great. My gameday gripes are more with the Northwestern culture, and to be honest, I don't know if/when I see that changing. A lot of older fans are reticent to make noise/stand up for big plays, the fanbase is still small, and the tradition just isn't there with the program. But since we're doing it with Welsh-Ryan, I'd love to see the football program find ways to put fans on top of the field, improve the in-game experience for the casual fan (better food, nicer shitters, and good tailgating are great ways to do this), and encourage the fanbase, small as it is, to really dig into gamedays. Winning goes a long way to that, yes, but it'd be nice to see Jim Phillips continuing to consolidate the huge gains he's already made.

LPW: I second MNW's suggestion about the restrooms and the concourses. It might take a complete rebuild and one season of playing at Soldier Field to make it happen. The concourses are too damn small, especially when there's a sellout and the bathrooms are too cramped. Also, there needs to be flawless wifi and cell phone service. I don't care if it's unnecessary because the stadium is in a residential neighborhood. It can be done. I saw flawless wifi and cell service working at Notre Dame stadium in 2014. It can be done!

I'd also like there to be more Northwestern fans. It's not fun when you hear GOOOOOOOO BIGGGG REDDDD GO BIG RED! nonstop at ear-splitting volumes IN YOUR HOME STADIUM! Northwestern needs more people like me: non-alum fans.

I'd also like to see the student section full for each game in october and november,

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There you have it, folks. Thanks for reading during Northwestern Week; we hope you've learned something and come to hate your private school Big Ten brethren just a little bit more. Enjoy HAT HAT HAT HAT HAT in the other threads and have a safe and happy 4th of July. We'll be jingling our keys at you from Chicago.

Love,

MNWildcat and LincolnParkWildcat